The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 1. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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LIES next to Woolwich, southward, on the opposite side of the great London road. It takes its name from the two Saxon words, eald and ham, signifying the old town or habitation; this is about two miles across each way. The town of Eltham, as it is called, stands in the centre of it. The high road through Farningham to Maidstone, leads through it; at the east end of it is Park-place Farm, near which the road branches off on one side to Bexley, and here the land is dreary and barren, and much covered with coppice wood of oak; the other leads through the hamlet of Southend, in this parish, towards Footscray, and on to Maidstone. The church stands in the town on the north side, and farther behind it Wellhall, and the large tract of woodland, as far as Shooter's-hill, bounding the high road there to Dover. The great lodge and park in which it stands join the south side of the town, at a small distance westward from which are the ruins of the antient palace of Eltham, and the great hall of it, called king John'sbarn, still remaining entire, westward from which are the lodges of Middle and Horn, alias Lee parks, where the lands are very low and wet; at the south bounds of the parish is the hamlet of Modingham, where the ground rises towards Chiselhurst, having a fine view of the neighbouring country.
Eltham is a pleasant well-built town. Its nearness to the metropolis, and the healthiness and pleasantness of its situation, makes it much resorted to by merchants and people of fortune, for their summer residence, either in their houses or in handsome lodgings. In the 12th year of king Edward I. John de Vesci had the grant of a market, to be holden on a Tuesday weekly, within this manor of Eltham, and a fair there yearly on the feast of the Holy Trinity. Henry VI. granted a confirmation of this market to his tenants in Eltham, and one fair also to be held there yearly on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. (fn. 1) The market has been long since discontinued, but there were four annual fairs, held on Palm Monday, Easter Monday, Whitsun Monday, and the 10th of October, for horses, cattle, and toys, kept here within memory, but these likewise have been discontinued for some time.
At the NORTH-EAST extremity of this parish lies SHOOTER'S-HILL, over which the high road leads from London to Dover. The northern side of which is mostly in Plumsted parish. It was so called, in all probability, from the archers frequently exercising themselves here in shooting. It always was a place of much danger and dread to travellers, from the narrowness of the road over it, and the continual lurking nests of thieves among the woods and coppices, with which this hill, especially towards the south and east, was much overspread. To remedy which, in some measure, an order was taken, in the 6th year of king Edward II. for enlarging the highway over it, according to the statute made in the time of king Edward I. and king Henry IV. granted leave to Thomas Chapman to cut down, burn, and sell all the woods and underwoods growing and adjoining to Shooter's-hill, on the south side, and to bestow the money raised thereby upon mending the highway. (fn. 2) Notwithstanding which, this road continued so hollow, and narrow too, on the eastern descent of the hill, that it was impossible for a passenger, if way-laid, to escape falling into the ruffians hands, which gave occasion to continual robberies being committed here, even at noon day. To remove this nuisance as far as possible in so public a road, the trustees, authorised by parliament, for amending and improving it, in 1739, began to lay out a new road of considerable width, in the room of the old one, which may still be seen a little to the north of it; this they at length completed, with no small expence, care, and labour, to the universal satisfaction and emolument of every traveller passing this way.
On the summit of Shooter's-hill, on the north side, in Plumsted parish, there is a small hamlet of houses, among which, as you descend westward, is a handsome seat, built by John Lidgbird, esq. sheriff of this county in 1741, the year before which he had this grant of arms, being then stiled of Plumsted, in the county of Kent, and of Roughem, in Suffolk, viz. Quarterly gules and azure, a chevron ermine in chief two eagles displayed argent. On his death, about 1767, the property of this seat descended to his son, Henry Lidgbird, esq. the present owner of it, but it is now inhabited by demise from him, by John Stanley, esq.
At a small distance below which, on a field which commands a most beautiful and extensive prospect, a plan was formed some years ago, for building a superb town, and a few houses were erected and finished, but the greatness of the undertaking, and the inability of those who had engaged in it, put an end to this design, and it has been for some time laid aside. On the top of this hill is a mineral spring, which is said constantly to overflow, and never to be frozen, in the severest winters. An account of it by William Godbid, was printed at London, in 1617. Near the high road, though entirely obscured by the woods on the southern side of the eastern summit of the hill within the bounds of this parish is a seat, called Nightingale-hall, having a beautiful prospect towards the south, now the residence of Mr. Montague; and in the wood, on the western part of the summit of it is a triangular tower, built in the Gothic style, erected, not many years since, by lady James, to the memory of her husband, Sir William James, bart. of this parish, which from its singular appearance, cannot escape observation, and is seen for many miles round the country.
To this place of Shooter's-hill, king Henry VIII. and his queen, Catherine, came in great splendor from Greenwich, on May-day. They were received here by two hundred archers, all clad in green, with one personating Robin Hood, as their captain. He first shewed the king the skill of his archers in their exquisite shooting, and then leading the ladies into the wood, gave them an entertainment of venison and wine, in green harbours and booths, adorned with gaudy pageants, and all the efforts of the romantic gallantry, then practised in that luxurious court. (fn. 3)
About forty years ago an antient piece of money was found at Eltham. The coin was very fair and well preserved, owing to its remaining so long in the stratum of white sand, wherein it was found. The weight of it was fifteen grains and a half; and the figure underneath will give the best description of it.
Mr. Charles Clarke, late of Baliol-college, Oxford, in 1751, published Some Conjectures, endeavouring to prove it a coin of king Richard I. which were followed the next year by Remarks on the above Conjectures, by G. North, M. A. and F. S. A. to shew the improbability of the above notion, and that this coin was not of king Richard I. nor from the royal mints in any other reign, but a piece of base money, denominated Penny-yard pence, from their being stamped or made at Penny-yard, a place near Ross, in Hereford- shire, about the time of king Henry III. when this sort of money is supposed to have begun to be made at the forges there, for the currency of the workmen employed at them.
Juncus capite globoso amplo, found on Shooter's-hill. (fn. 4)
In a garden on the north side of the town of Eltham, lately occupied by the Rev. Dr. Pinnell, there is a green house, in which were formerly kept the exotics of that eminent botanist, Dr. James Sherard, a list of which was published at London, in 1752, in folio, under the title of Dillenii Hortus Elthamensis seu Plantœ rariores in horto fac. Sherard, Elthami in Cantio, 2 vol. cum figuris. Another edition of this book, Cum de Nominationibus Linnœanis, was published at Leyden, in 1775.
In the time of William the Conqueror, Eltham was part of the possessions of that great prelate, Odo, bishop of Baieux and earl of Kent, the king's half brother, of whom it was then held by Haimo, vicecomes or sheriff of the county. Accordingly it is thus entered in Domesday, under the general title of that bishop's lands:
Haimo the sheriff holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Alteham. It was taxed at 1 suling and a half. The ara- ble land is 12 carucates. In demesne there are 2 carucates and 44 villeins, with 12 borderers having 11 carucates. There are 9 servants, and 22 acres of meadow. There is wood for the pannage of 50 hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth 16 pounds, when he received it 12 pounds, and now 20 pounds. Alwold held it of the king.
On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, about four years after, all his estates were confiscated to the crown. This palace afterwards belonged partly to the king and partly to the Mandevils, from whom it came to be called Eltham Mandevil. King Edward I. gave his part of Eltham, with lands in Northumberland, and other places, in the 9th year of his reign, to John, son of William de Vesci, a potent baron of the north, who had the year before married Isabel de Beaumont, queen Eleanor's kinswoman. In the 12th year of that reign he procured a charter for a weekly market here on a Tuesday, and a fair yearly on the eve of the Holy Trinity and the two following days. In the 14th year of it, having obtained the king's consent, he gave the sixth part of the manor of Luton, in Bedfordshire, in exchange to Walter de Mandevil for his part of Eltham, and died without issue in the 17th year of the same reign, holding the manor of Eltham of the king by knight's service, and leaving William his brother his heir, and Isabel his wife, surviving.
William de Vesci was summoned to parliament in the 23d year of that reign, and having married Isabel, daughter of Adam de Periton, widow of Robert de Welles, had by her an only son, John, who died without issue in his life time, upon which, having no lawful issue surviving, in the 24th year of that reign he enfeoffed that great prelate, Anthony Beke, bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem, in several of his estates, among which was the inheritance of Eltham, then held by Isabel, widow of John de Vesci, afterwards wife of Adam de Welles, for her life, upon the special trust, that he should retain them for the use of William de Vesci, (fn. 5) his bastard son, by Dergavile, his concubine, daughter of Dunwald, a petty prince in Ireland, the year after which he died at Malton. This William the bastard, commonly called William de Vesci of Kildare, married Maud, widow of Thomas Nevil, of Chetham, and was slain in the battle of Strivelin in Scotland, (commonly called the battle of Bannocksburne) in 8th king Edward II. having been summoned to parliament in the 6th year of that reign. (fn. 6) He bore for his arms, Gules a cross argent. (fn. 7)
The family of Vesci was descended from Yvo de Vesci, a Norman, who came over with the Conqueror, and through his power married Alda, only daughter and heir of William Tyson, lord of the large baronies of Alnwicke, in Northumberland, and Malton, in Yorkshire, and son of Gilbert Tyson, who was slain fighting for king Harold, in the battle of Hastings; by her he had an only daughter and heir, Beatrix, who married Eustace Fitz-John, one of the chief peers of England, and of intimate familiarity with king Henry I.
On the death of William de Vesci the bastard without issue, (who does not seem to have ever been in possession of Eltham-house, as will be shewn below) the manor of Eltham descended to Gilbert Aton, by the disposition of his kinsman, William Vesci, the father, whose right heir he was. (fn. 8)
This Sir Gilbert de Aton, lord Vesci, bore for his arms, Barry of six or and azure, on a canton gules a cross story argent. (fn. 9) He granted the manor of Eltham Mandevil, with all those hereditaments in the county of Kent, which had been part of the possessions of Wil- liam de Vesci, of Kildare, to Geoffrey le Scrope, of Masham, who obtained the king's confirmation of them in the 11th year of king Edward II. But it seems he had only a term in this manor, for when Edward III. in his 4th year, took him into favour, and again made him chief justice of the King's-bench, of which he had been dispossessed for his too great credit with the late king, he gave him the inheritance of this manor of Eltham Mandevil, to hold by the accustomed services. He was afterwards advanced to the dignity of a banneret, with the grant of two hundred marcs per annum, for the support of that honour, and died in the 13th year of that reign, at which time the court of this manor, stiled Curia de Mandevil, was then held sometimes at Eltham, and at other times at Woolwich. Soon after which, but by what means I have not found, this manor came into the possession of the crown, where the inheritance of it has continued ever since, but there have been several grants made of it from time to time, some for terms of years, and others for lives, by the successive kings and queens of England.
King Henry VIII. in his 14th year, granted the farm and lands of Eltham and other premises, for the term of forty years to Sir Henry Guildford. (fn. 10) In the latter end of that reign, the manor of Eltham was in the possession of Sir Thomas Speke, on whose death, king Edward VI. by his letters patent, in his 5th year, granted to Sir John Gates, among other premises here, this his manor, with all its appurtenances, as well within his parks of Eltham, as without, and all other franchises, courts, and views of frankpledge, belonging to it, which came into the king's hands by the death of Sir Thomas Speke, to hold for life, at the yearly rent of 31l and 20d. (fn. 11) In the 10th year of queen Elizabeth, William Cromer, esq. was possessed of the queen's manor of Eltham. In the reign of king Charles I. the earl of Dorset seems to have been in possession of those lands belonging to this manor demised by the crown, which, after the king's death, were in the possession of Sir Thomas Walsingham, who was high-steward of it.
The manor of Eltham was in the hands of the crown at the death of king Charles I. in 1648, and became afterwards vested in the state, who passed an ordinance the next year for the survey and sale of it, for the benefit of the public. After which, the manor, with its appurtenances, the manor-house, parks, lodges, and the other premises, late belonging to the king, were sold to different persons, in whose possession they continued till the restoration of king Charles II. in 1660, when they again became part of the royal estates.
Sir John Shaw having purchased a subsisting term of this manor, king Charles II. in consideration of the eminent services performed by him, and of promises made before, had granted to him, in the year 1663, a new and longer term of it, which, about thirty-five years ago, was renewed, and it is now in the possession of his great-great grandson, Sir John Shaw, of Elthamlodge, bart. as lessee under the crown, to whom the inheritance belongs.
This manor extends over all the parish of Eltham, the hamlet of Mottingham, the township of Woolwich, and the south side of Foot's-cray, in the parish of Chesilhurst. The jury appoints two constables and two ale tasters for Eltham, a borsholder for Mottingham, and a borsholder for the part of Foot's-cray within its jurisdiction, and the tenants of the manor are all free tenants.
The KING'S-HOUSE, or ELTHAM-PALACE, was built most probably on part of those premises which were granted by king Edward I. in his 9th year, to John de Vesci, as has been mentioned before, and perhaps on the very scite of the house where king Henry III. in his 55th year, kept his Christmas publicly, according to the custom of those times, being accompanied by the queen and all the great men of the realm. (fn. 12)
In the next reign of king Edward I. Anthony Beke, bishop of Durham, in whom the lands and possessions of Vesci, in Eltham, were then vested after reserving to himself an estate for life, granted the reversion of Eltham-house, with its appurtenances, to the crown. (fn. 13) He died here in the 4th year of king Edward II. after having bestowed great cost on his buildings at this place. The bishop of Durham being dead, king Edward II. kept his residence here; where, in his 9th year, his queen was delivered of a son, called, from the place of his birth, John of Eltham. About which time the Statutes of Eltham, which contain precedents for the government of the king's house to this day, were made at this palace.
King Edward III. in his 4th year, called a parliament to meet at Eltham; for adjoining to several of the antient palaces of the kings of England, there was a large room or hall for the accommodation of the parliament, and other large meetings and festivities, which in some was called the parliament chamber; in others, the hall of the respective palace served for these purposes, of which last sort was Westminster-hall, and the hall of this palace of Eltham, in which most likely these parliaments were held; the latter is still standing, and is a noble and spacious building of free-stone, well adapted to the purpose of holding so large an assembly. It is now converted into a barn, and is commonly called King John's barn, and stands on part of the scite of the old palace. The same king, in his 38th year, intending to give a princely reception to king John of France, who had been his prisoner in England, and then came over to visit him, received him at Eltham, where he entertained him with great magnificence. Edward III. again held a parliament here in his 50th year, when the lords and commons attended him with a petition, among other matters, to make his grandson, Richard of Bourdeaux, son and heir of Edward, (late prince of Wales and heir apparent of the realm) Prince of Wales. (fn. 14) Leonel, third son of king Edward III. and guardian of the realm (the king being at that time carrying on his wars in France) kept his Christmas here, in the 20th year of that reign.
King Richard II. resided much at his manor of Eltham, taking great delight in the pleasantness of the place; in the 10th year of whose reign, the king, with his queen and court, keeping their Christmas here with much festivity, received Leo, king of Armenia, who had been driven out of his dominions by the Turks, and entertained him sumptuously.
King Henry IV. resided much here, where he kept his last Christmas, and being taken sick, was carried to London, where he soon after died. His son and successor, king Henry V. in his 3d year, lay here, with a design of keeping his Christmas with much feasting, but was forced to leave the place abruptly, on the discovery of a plot, in which some had conspired to murder him. King Henry VI. made it his principal place of residence, keeping his Christmas royally here, with much splendour and feasting, in his 8th year. In his 17th year, he renewed, by charter, to the tenants of his manor of Eltham, their market, with large additional privileges, as may be seen in the original record of that year, in the tower of London. (fn. 15)
King Edward IV. repaired this house with much cost, and inclosed Horne-park, so called from its being the scite of the manor of Horne, which was antiently the king's demesne, as appears by the grant of king Ed- ward III. in his 21st year, to all his tenants of this manor to be toll-free throughout England. Bridget, this king's 4th daughter, was born here, in the 20th year of his reign, and the next day was baptized in the chapel here, by the bishop of Chichester. She afterwards became a nun at Dartford, in this county. Two years afterwards that king kept a splendid Christmas here, with great feastings, two thousand people being fed at his expence every day.
King Henry VII. built a handsome front to this palace, towards the moat, and was usually resident here, and, as appears by a record in the office of arms, most commonly dined in the great hall of this place, and all his officers kept their tables in it. (fn. 16) King Henry VIII. neglecting this palace, built much at Greenwich, though he sometimes resided here, particularly in his 7th year, when keeping his Whitsuntide at Eltham, he created Sir Edward Stanley, knt. for his good services performed against the Scots, at Flodden-field, Lord Monteagle, at which time, by reason of some infection then reigning in London, none were permitted to dine in the King's-hall, but the officers of arms, who, at the serving in the king's second course of meat, according to custom, came and proclaimed the king's stile, and then that of the new lord. The king kept his Christmas royally here, with balls and much feasting that year, as he did again in 1527, yet being more pleased with his neighbouring palace of Greenwich, he neglected this more and more, so that in a few years it was in a manner totally deserted by the royal family.
By the survey, taken by the state after Charles I.'s death, in 1648, it appears, that the capital mansionhouse, built with brick, stone, and timber, called Eltham-house, consisted of a fair chapel, a great hall, thirty-six rooms and offices below stairs, with two large cellars; and above stairs, in lodgings, called the king's side, seventeen lodging rooms, and on the queen's side, twelve lodging rooms, and on the prince's side, nine lodging rooms, in all thirty-eight, with various other necessary rooms and closets, and thirtyfive bayes of building round the court-yard, which contained one acre of ground, and the said bayes of building contained about seventy-eight rooms, used as offices. The whole being much out of repair, the materials were valued at 2753l. exclusive of the charge of taking down. That the great park contained five hundred and ninety-six acres; that the deer were all destroyed, and the park disparked by the soldiery and common people, and the trees in this park (besides such as were marked out for the use of the navy) were a thousand and sixty, being old and decayed; that there was due to the vicar, in lieu of tithes in the great park, the running of one horse or gelding, or the keep of two cows, worth four pounds per annum, excepting which, all the premises were tithe free; that the little or middle park, adjoining to the other next Mottingham, contained three hundred and thirty-three acres; that the lodge belonging to it lay in the middle of it, but the park was destroyed as well as the former; that the trees in it (besides those marked for the navy, being one thousand) were three hundred and twenty-four; that the parcel of impaled ground, called Horne, alias Lee-park, in Eltham and Lee, contained three hundred and thirty-six acres; that the deer in it were destroyed as well as in the others, and the trees in it were two thousand six hundred and twenty, old and worn out; that the demesne lands, with the parks, &c. mentioned above, were one thousand six hundred and fifty-two acres, of which the total value was 860l. 19s. 2d. and improvements of them, 202l. 6s. 7d. and that the sum of forty shillings was payable always to the vicar, for or in lieu of tithes of hay, by reason of certain mea- dows and paddocks, laid into the middle or little park. (fn. 17)
After this survey, the manor, with its appurtenances, the house, parks, the lodges, and other premises, were sold to different persons, in whose possession they remained till the restoration of king Charles II. in 1660, when the inheritance of them returned again to the crown.
Sir John Shaw was then in possession of the manor of Eltham, the king's house, the three parks, the great, the middle, and West Horne, alias Lee parks, and the demesnes above mentioned; and Charles II. in consideration of his eminent services, granted to him a long term of them, which has been from time to time renewed, since which this family have constantly resided here, at the great manor lodge, which stands in the great park, adjoining to the town of Eltham. This lodge has been fitted up and greatly improved within these few years, and is now the residence of Sir John Gregory Shaw, bart. the great-great grandson of him before mentioned. There is a yearly fee farm rent paid for the great park to the crown of 153l. 3s. 4d.
The family of Shaw derive themselves from the county palatine of Chester. Hugo de Shaw, of that county, behaving himself well under the earl of Chester, in an enterprise against Lewellin, prince of Wales, near the castle of Ruthin, had several manors, and a daughter of the earl given him in marriage.
Randal de Shaw, his son, of Haslington-hall, married a daughter of Reginald Venables, of Agdon, in that county; from whom, in a lineal descent, after several generations, was Robert Shaw of Haslingtonhall, whose descendant was Robert Shaw of London, and of Shaw's-court, in Surry, who had by Christiana, daughter of William Donnelaw, merchant, three sons, Robert, Sir John Shaw, and George of Antwerp.
Sir John Shaw, besides other considerable rewards, had the dignity of a Baronet conferred on him by letters patent, dated April 15, 1665, for the assistance he had given king Charles II. at Brussels and Antwerp, during his exile. He had two wives, first, Anne, daughter of Sir Joseph Ashe, by whom he had Sir John, his successor, of whom hereafter; he married secondly Bridget, relict of Charles, viscount Kilmorey, and daughter and coheir of Sir William Drury of Besthorp, in Norfolk, by whom he had several children, from whom there are no descendants now remaining. Sir John Shaw, bart. only son by the first wife, succeeded his father, who died in 1721, in title and estate, and married two wives, first Margery, daughter and sole heir of Sir John Peake, lord mayor of London, by whom he had Sir John, his successor, and two daughters. His second wife was Sarah, one of the daughters and coheirs of William Paggen of London, merchant, by whom he had three sons, William Shaw of Cheshunt-house, in Hertfordshire; Paggen and Peter Shaw, merchants; and six daughters. Sir John Shaw, bart. eldest son by the first wife, succeeded his father in dignity and estate, and married Anna Maria, eldest daughter and coheir of Sir Tho. Barnardiston, bart. of Ketton, in Suffolk, by whom he had Sir John, his successor, and a daughter, Anna Maria, married to Peter Delme, esq. He died in 1739, and was succeeded by his only surviving son, the late Sir John Shaw, bart. of Eltham-lodge, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Hedges of Alderton, in Wiltshire, by whom he left no issue; he married secondly Martha, daughter and heir of John Kenward, esq. of Yalding, by whom he left two sons, John Gregory, the present baronet, born in 1756, and John Kenward, now of Town Malling, and vicar of this parish. Sir John Shaw, bart. died in 1779, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John Gregory Shaw, bart. who, in 1782, married Catharine, sister of John lord Monson, by whom he has issue several children. He bears for his arms, Argent, a chevron between three fusils, ermine. (fn. 18)
HENLEY'S was antiently a place of some note in this parish. In the reign of king Edward III. it was esteemed a manor, and belonged to John de Henley, whose house here was moated round. On his death, without issue, it came by his gift to king Edward III. and was annexed to the manor of Eltham by William de Brantingham, his feoffee. (fn. 19) The house was situated below the Conduit-head, in a field, at this time called the Conduit-field.
The MANOR OF EASTHORNE and the MANSION of WELLHALL were, in the 1st year of king Henry I. possessed by Sir Jordan de Briset, a wealthy and pious man, who was lord of Clerkenwell, where he founded a nunnery. He afterwards gave the nuns there ten acres of land, in his lordship of Welynghall, in Kent, in return for ten acres which they had granted him, on which he founded his hospital of Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, being the first of that order established in England. He bore for his arms, A griffin volant.
Sir Jordan de Briset died in the 11th of Henry I. and was buried in the chapter-house of the hospital of St. John, as was Muriel his wife afterwards. (fn. 20) By her he left three daughters and coheirs, the two youngest of whom died without issue. The eldest, Lecia, married first Sir Henry Foliot, from whom came the family of that name in Worcestershire; secondly Sir William Mountenay of Essex, from whom descended the Mountenays of that county.
In the reign of king Edward I. Matthew de Hegham held this estate, situated within the manor of Horne, by reason of Dower, of Arnold de Mandevil. In the 20th year of king Edward III. Sir John de Pulteney (a man of great account at that time, and owner of large possessions in this neighbourhood) held it in like manner. He died in the 23d year of the same reign, leaving William de Pulteney his son and heir; Margaret his widow surviving afterwards married Sir Nicholas Lovain. William de Pulteney, the son, was afterwards knighted, and died without issue in the 40th year of that reign, and left his kinsman, Robert de Pulteney, his heir.
This family was succeeded in its possessions in this place, about the latter end of Richard II.'s reign, by William Chichele, citizen and grocer of London, third son of Thomas Chichele, and younger brother of the archbishop of that name. He died in the 4th year of king Henry VI. leaving by Beatrice, his wife, daughter of William Barret, esq. two sons and two daughters. John, the youngest son, had this estate. He was a citizen and chamberlain of London, and married Margery, daughter of Sir Thomas Knollys, and by her had twenty-four children, of whom Agnes, the eldest daughter, married John Tattersall, esq. and brought her husband the manor of Easthorne and Wellhall, besides other estates at Woolwich and elsewhere in this neighbourhood. By the inquisition taken anno 25 king Henry VI. after the decease of John Tattersall, he was found to die possessed of the manor of Easthorne and Wellhall, and that John Tattersall was his son and heir, of whom I can find no farther mention.
Agnes, widow of John Tattersall the father, afterwards married Sir William Kene, who was sheriff of Kent anno 26 Henry VI. and resided at Wellhall, which he held in her right. (fn. 21) By her former husband, John Tattersall, she had two daughters and coheirs, Anne married to Sir Ralph Hastings, and Margery to John Roper of Swacliffe, who in her right became possessed of the inheritance of the manor of Easthorne and Wellhall. (fn. 22)
This family of Roper derived their original from Haculf Musard, who, in the Conqueror's time, was as eminent for his virtue and piety as for his opulence. His manors, from his being seated at Miserden, in Gloucestershire, were in general, though lying in different counties, comprehended under the name of Baronia de Miserden. He was succeeded by his son, Richard, who died anno 33 Henry II. whose younger son, William, was surnamed Rubra Spatha, and Rougespe, which was afterwards contracted to Roper, from one of whose posterity, about the reign of king Edward I. as some antient evidences affirm, the Ropers of the county of Kent derive their descent, and from whom likewise the Ropers of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, who continued till king Henry VI.'s reign, derived their original; at which time Isolda, only daughter of John Roper of Turndich, marrying Richard, eldest son of Richard Furneaux of Beighton, in Derbyshire, he covenanted, that his son and all his issue by her should thenceforth forsake their paternal name, and assume that of Roper, from whence descended the Ropers, viscounts Baltinglass, barons of Bantre, in Ireland, and those of Hull, in Yorkshire.
Among others of this name, who flourished in those early times, was William Rosper, or De Rubra Spatha, who in the reign of king Henry III. was a great benefactor to St. Martin's priory, in Dover. John de Rubra Spatha or Rosper, did eminent service in Scotland, under king Edward III. who rewarded him and William Clifford (as appears by a pedigree recorded in the duke of Dorset's pedigree) about the 29th year of his reign, with the third part of those forfeitures which were due from the Jews then inhabiting in London, for the violation of some penal statutes, which had been enacted against them. In the 1st year of king Richard II. the king calling on his subjects for money on an emergency, John Ropere of Canterbury, lent forty pounds to furnish out a fleet against the French and Scots; and Henry Ropere of Redyng, next year lent the king twenty pounds for the like occasions.
The heraldic visitation of this county, taken by John Philipott, rouge dragon, in 1619, begins the pedigree of this family with Edwin Roper, of the county of Kent, whose son, Adam Roper, had two sons, Thomas, and Edmund, who was prior of Bilsington, in this county.
Thomas Roper married the daughter of Thomas de Apuldore, and by her had one son and heir, Ralph, who was twice married, first to Beatrix, daughter of Sir Thomas Lewknor, and secondly to the daughter of Thomas Kempe of Wye.
By his first wife he had John, who died without issue, in 1401; Agnes, married to Walter Culpeper, esq. of Bedgbury, and Edmund, who was of St. Dunstan's, and an eminent man in the reigns of Henry IV. and V. under whom he was a justice of the peace for this county. He died in the 12th year of Henry VI. and was buried in the church of St. Dunstan's, leaving two sons, John Roper of Swacliffe, esq. and Edmund. John Roper, the eldest son, was of Swacliffe, and succeeded his father likewise at St. Dunstan's. He was one of the surveyors of the customs of the cinque ports under king Henry VII. in his 19th year. He married Margery, daughter and coheir of John Tattersall before mentioned, and died in the end of the year 1488. He had by her two sons, John Roper, who in right of his mother, who survived her husband, and dying, anno 10 Henry VIII. was buried in the antient chancel of the Tattersalls, in this church, became possessed of the manor of Easthorne and Welhall, and Thomas, to whom his father left, by his will, Brenley, in Boughton-under-Blean, and a daughter, Margery, wife of John Boys of Nonington, in Kent. John Roper, the eldest son, was of Wellhall and St. Dunstan's; he was sheriff of this county in the 12th year of king Henry VIII. and afterwards attorney-general and prothonotary of the King's-bench, as appears by the inscription on his monument, in St. Dunstan's church. He died in 1524, leaving by Jane his wife, daughter of Sir John Fineux, chiefjustice of England, several sons and daughters. Of the sons, Christopher the younger was seated at Linsted-lodge, from whom descended the Ropers, lords Teynham, and the late Trevor Roper, lord Dacre.
William Roper, the eldest son, born in 1495, was prothonotary of the King's-bench, and succeeded his father in his estate here and at St. Dunstan's, whose lands were disgavelled by the acts passed in the 31st of king Henry VIII. and in the 2d and 3d years of king Edward VI. He was sheriff of Kent in the 1st and 2d years of Philip and Mary, and married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Moore, lord chancellor of England. He died in 1577, aged 82, and was buried in the vault under the chapel, joining to the chancel, in St. Dunstan's church, next to Margaret his wife, who, as her inscription informs us, was a woman most learned in the Greek and Latin tongues. (fn. 23) He left by her two sons and three daughters, of the former, Anthony, the youngest son, settled at Farningham in this county; and Thomas the eldest succeeded his father, as well in his estates of Easthorne and Wellhall, and St. Dunstan's, as in his place of prothonotary of the King's-bench. Thomas Roper, esq. the eldest son, was of Eltham, and married Lucy, sister of Anthony Browne, visc. Montacute, by whom he had ten sons and ten daughters. He died in 1597.
William Roper, the eldest son, succeeded his father at Wellhall and St. Dunstan's, and was afterwards knighted. He married Catharine, daughter and coheir of Sir Anthony Browne, of Ridley-hall, chief-justice of the court of common-pleas, by whom he had two sons, Anthony Roper of Well-hall, in Eltham, and Thomas, who married Susan, daughter of John Winchcombe of Henwick, in Berkshire, and one daughter.
Anthony Roper succeeded his father in the manor of Easthorne, and in Wellhall, in this parish, and in St. Dunstan's before mentioned, and married three wives, first Maria, daughter of William Gerarde, esq. of Trent, in Somersetshire, by whom he had one daughter, Margaret; secondly Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Holte, esq. of Warwickshire, by whom he left no issue; and thirdly a daughter of Sir Henry Compton of Bramble-tye, in Sussex, a younger brother of William, first earl of Northampton, by whom he had issue Edward his successor. Edw. Roper, esq. was of Wellhall and St. Dunstan's, and married Catharine, daughter of James Butler, esq. of Sussex, by whom he left a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Edw. Henshaw, esq. of Hampshire, and becoming her father's sole heir, brought her husband this estate of Wellhall, as well as the antient paternal seat and inheritance of the Ropers, in St. Dunstan's. This elder branch of the family of Roper bore for their coat armour a coat of twelve quarterings; viz. 1. Roper per fess azure and or, a pale and three roebucks heads erased counterchanged; 2. Apledore; 3. St. Laurence; 4. Tattersall; 5. Apulderfield; 6. Appleton; 7. Twite; 8. Browne; 9. Swan; 10. Francis; 11. Champneis; 12. Roper, as before. These twelve quarterings were attested to belong to this branch of Roper by John Philipott, Somerset herald.
They joined in the sale of the manors of Easthorne and Wellhall, about the year 1733, to Sir Gregory Page of Wricklesmarsh, bart. who pulled down the mansion of Wellhall, and built a handsome farm house in the room of it, which, with the demesnes belonging to it, continued in Sir Gregory Page's possession at his death, in 1775, and he, by his will bequeathed this estate to his nephew, Sir Gregory Turner Page, bart. of Oxfordshire, in tail, the present possessor of it.
Wellhall farm now consists of about two hundred acres of land, let at about two hundred pounds per annum. In the great hall of this mansion was a most valuable painting, done by Hans Holbein, of Sir Thomas More, lord chancellor, and his family, in all about twelve figures, all drawn with great strength and beauty, and so large as to take up almost the whole end of the hall. It was valued at one thousand pounds, and had remained here from the time of its being painted till the year 1731, when Sir Rowland Wynne removed it from hence, about the time the estate was sold. (fn. 24)
CORBYE, alias CORBYN-HALL, was once a place of some account in Eltham, though the name of it at present is hardly known by any one. It was once the seat of a family of the name of Corbie, who, as early as the reign of king Henry III. had an estate likewise at Whithurst, in Marden, in this county. Their estates, by Joan, daughter of Robert Corbie, came to Sir Nicholas Wotton, who, anno 3 Henry V. was mayor of London. But in the reign of Edward VI. this place was in the hands of the crown, for that king, by his letters patent, in his 5th year, granted, among other premises, to Sir John Gates, for his life, the house or tenement called Corbye, alias Corbyn-hall, with its appurtenances, in Eltham, and one cottage, with the garden and appurtenances near the scite of the parish church at Eltham, at the yearly rent of 6s. 8d. and then in the king's hands, by the death of Sir Thomas Speke; (fn. 25) and queen Elizabeth, in 1592, granted a lease of it to the lord Cobham, since which this house seems to have continued in the crown, and to have been blended with the rest of its possessions in this parish.
PARK-PLACE FARM is a seat in this parish, situated near the east end of the town of Eltham, at no great distance from the high-road. It was formerly in the possession of Mr. Richard Nunn, whose widow Sarah on his death became possessed of it for her life, and resided in it. At her decease it came to the lady Mary Henrietta, the wife of John viscount Hinchingbrooke, their grand-daughter, being the only surviving child of their daughter Henrietta, by lord Harry Powlett, afterwards duke of Bolton, and she possessed it by inheritance, by virtue of her grandfather's will. She sold it to Thomas Lucas, esq. of Lee, who quickly afterwards again disposed of it, about the year 1775, to William James, esq. M. P. for West Looe, and a director of the East India company, who having almost rebuilt the house, and inclosed a park round it, gave it the above name of Park place farm. On July 25, 1778, he was created a baronet, and dying in 1784, left the possession of it to his widow, who is now entitled to it, but it is demised by her to Sir Benjamin Hammett, who now resides in it.
The HAMLET of SOUTHEND, in this parish, is situated about a mile eastward from the town of El- tham, on the high road to Maidstone, on which there is a seat, which formerly was the residence of Sir William Wythens, the son of Robert Wythens, sheriff of London and alderman, descended from the county palatine of Chester. (fn. 26) In his descendants it continued down to Sir Francis Wythens, sergeant at law, who died possessed of it in 1704, bearing for his arms, Gules a chevron embattled between three martlets or, which arms were confirmed to them by Sir William Dethie, garter, in 1593. This estate soon after came into the possession of Rich. Comport Fitch, esq. who resided here, by whose daughter and heir, Anne, it went in marriage to Sir Thomas Fitch, who, in 1688, had been created a baronet, and died not many days after, on which it descended to Sir Comport Fitch, bart. of this place, whose sole daughter and heir, Alice, carried in marriage, in 1740, to Sir John Barker, bart. of Sproughton, in Suffolk, who in 1759 married Lucy, daughter of Sir Richard Lloyd. He died without issue, and left it by his will to Robert Nassau, only brother of the honourable Rich. Savage Nassau, eldest son of the earl of Rochford, who sold it to Mr. Burgess, who not long afterwards alienated it to Mrs. Anne Greene, widow, who now resides in it.
MOTTINGHAM is a hamlet which lies partly in this parish and partly in that of Chesilhurst, at about a mile distance southward from Eltham church. It was antiently called Modingham, from the Saxon words modig, proud or lofty, and ham, a dwelling.
In king Edward the Confessor's confirmation of the gift of Elthruda, king Alfred's niece, of the manor of Lewisham, and its appendages, to the abbey of St. Peter of Ghent in Flanders, in 1044, Modingeham is mentioned as one of them belonging to that manor, but the succeeding grants of Lewisham manor make no mention of this place. In the reign of Edward I. it passed as an appendage to the manor of Eltham, in the grant made by that king to John de Vesci, since which it has always been considered as part of it, which at this time claims over the whole of this hamlet. The bounds and extent of the hamlet of Modyngham are thus described in an antient manuscript, remaining among the registers of the bishops of Rochester.
Memorandum. That the lordship of Modynham begins at Readhelde, and extends to the wood of the lord bishop, called Elmystediswood towards the south, and to the field, called Charlesfield, towards the west, and to the woods and lands of the king in Eltham towards the north and east. (fn. 27)
In the beginning of the reign of king William Rufus, Ansgotus of Chesilhurst, the king's chamberlain, was possessed of the see of this hamlet, and then gave the tithes of it to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester, as will be further mentioned. In the beginning of king Edward III.'s reign, a family of the name of Legh was possessed of certain tenements, with the lands and appurtenances belonging to them, in Modingham and Chesilhurst. From one of that name they passed to Thomas de Bankwell, who, at his decease in the 35th year of that reign, was found to die possessed of certain tenements, late Leghs, in Modingham and Chesilhurst, held of the king in gavelkind, as of his manor of Eltham, by the service of 14s. 11d. per annum rent, and performing suit to the king's-court of Eltham. These premises, in the 24th year of king Henry VI. were in the possession of Robert Cheeseman, of Lewisham and East Greenwich, who, by his marriage with Joane, daughter of Bernard Cavell of Chesilhurst, had considerably increased his property in this place.
These Cavells were possessed of lands in that part of Modyngham which lies in Chesilhurst, as early as the reign of king Edward I. for John Mayo, jun. by his deed, anno 18 Edward I. conveyed several premises in that part of this hamlet to Bernard Cavell, senior, of Chesilhurst. The last of the Cheesemans, who held this estate, was Thomas Cheeseman, whose heir, Alice, carried it in marriage to Robert Stoddard, and his son, George Stoddard, and Anne, his wife, in the year 1560, built the present mansion-house, called Mottingham-place, which, with the lands belonging to it, continued in their descendants till Nicholas Stoddard, esq. dying in 1765, unmarried and intestate, there appeared many claimants to the inheritance of it; but after a long litigation in the court of chancery, this seat, with the estate, was adjudged to an heir by the female line, William Bowreman, esq. of Newport, in the isle of Wight, who passed away his interest in it to Mr. Dyneley, who has almost rebuilt this seat in a very handsome stile, and now resides in it. In the old house were the following dates and coats of arms. On the inside of the turret, 1560; on a chimney, 1561; on an outward gate, 1635. In the glass of the windows these arms—Argent, a mullet pierced sable, on a chief embattled sable, two mullets pierced argent—Party per chevron embattled sable and argent, three mullets pierced and counterchanged—And on a chimney-piece this coat, Argent, three etoils of eight points impaling or, on a fess azure three garbs of the first, between two chevrons gules, charged with three escallops of the first.
At no great distance from Mottingham-place, to the eastward, is a small seat, called FAIRY-HILL, which was honoured with the temporary residence of Henry earl Bathurst, when lord high chancellor of Great Britain. He was the second but eldest surviving son of Allen earl Bathurst, and being bred to the profession of the law, having been first made a justice of the court of common-pleas, was, in 1771, farther promoted to be lord high chancellor of Great-Britain, and sworn of the privy council; and on the 22d of that month, created baron Apsley of Apsley, in Sussex. On the death of his father, in September 1775, he succeeded him, as his eldest surviving son and heir, in the titles of Earl, Viscount, and Baron Bathurst, and in the family estate, of which the chief seat is at Cirencester, in Gloucestershire. Having resigned the seals he retired to his family seat at Circencester, where he died in 1794, and was succeeded by his eldest son the right honourable Henry, now earl Bathurst, who succeeded him in the possession of this seat, which afterwards became the residence of Mr. Nelson of London, with whom it now continues.
A strange accident happened at Mottingham, on August 4, 1585, in a field, which then belonged to Sir Percival Hart. Early in the morning the ground began to sink so much, that three large elm trees were suddenly swallowed up in the pit. The tops of them falling downward into the hole, and before ten o'clock they were so overwhelmed, that no part of them could be discerned, the concave being suddenly filled with water. The compass of this hole was about eighty yards, and so deep, that a sounding line of fifty fathoms could hardly reach the bottom. At about ten yards distance from the above, there was another piece of ground which sunk in like manner, near the highway, and so near a dwelling-house as greatly to terrify the inhabitants of it. (fn. 28)
The tithes of the hamlet of Mottingham were given, in the reign of king William Rufus, by Ansgotus, the king's chamberlain, then owner of this place, to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester. This gift was afterwards the occasion of frequent contentions, as well between the prior and convent of Rochester, and the rectors and vicars of Eltham, as between them and the rectors of Chesilhurst. But these disputes only served to strengthen the right of the priory to these tithes, which were adjudged and confirmed to the monks of St. Andrew from time to time, by the several bishops of Rochester and archbishops of Canterbury.
The prior and convent of St. Andrew, Rochester, by their lease, anno 5th Edward III. demised to Sir Henry de Reddlynton, chaplain, Laurence de Sutton, and Robert de Voyle, all the tithes of sheaves arising within the hamlet of Modynham, within the parishes of Chesilhurst and Eltham, and the like tithes arising in Bertrey, in the parish of Codham, at the yearly rent of eight marcs sterling.
The tithes of Mottingham continued in the possession of the prior and convent above mentioned till the final dissolution of the monastery, which happened in March, anno 32 king Henry VIII. when they came, with the rest of its possessions, into the king's hands, who the next year settled these tithes, by his letters patent, on his new erected dean and chapter of Rochester.
After the death of king Charles I. an ordinance passed, in 1649, for the abolition of deans and chapters, and the sale of their possessions, for which purpose these tithes of Mottingham were surveyed, and the following return was made of them:—All that portion of tithes, great and small, arising out of the hamlet of Modingham, in the parishes of Chesilhurst and Eltham, let by the dean and chapter, anno 15th king Charles I. for twenty years, at the yearly rent of five pounds to Nicholas Buckeridge, but worth, upon improvement, twenty pounds per annum. (fn. 29)
Eltham had the honour of giving the title of Earl to his late royal highness Frederick (afterwards Prince of Wales, and father of his present majesty) who was created Earl of Eltham by his grandfather, king George I. on July 21, in the 12th year of his reign. He died March 20, 1751, and was succeeded in this earldom by his eldest son George, born May 24, in 1738, afterwards created Prince of Wales, and who, on his grandfather, king George II.'s death, October 25, 1760, succeeded to the imperial crown of these realms, being his present most excellent majesty king George III.
THOMAS PHILPOT by his will, in 1680 (confirmed by a decree of the court of chancery in 1685) founded an alms-house, which is situated at the east-end of Eltham-street, on the north side, for six poor people, that is, four of this parish and two of Chesilhurst, the land with which it is endowed being vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of 31l.
KING HENRY VII. by deed, in 1442, established by a commission for charitable uses, in 1674, gave, for the use of the poor inhabitants of Eltham, for and towards the payment of their fifteenths, lands vested in feoffees, in trust for that purpose, of the annual produce of 56l. 9s. N. B. Thirteen acres, part of this estate, is let with other charity lands, given by John Passey, mentioned below, and computed to be of the rent of 11l.
HENRY KEIGHTLEY by will, in 1620, gave for the repairing of certain highways, and to pay yearly to twelve poor men of this parish 12d. out of the land vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of 1s.
JOHN PASSEY by will, in 1509, gave out of the profits of certain lands, 26s. 8d. yearly, i. e. 13s. 4d. for the king's tax, called head silver, and the remainder for masses, obits, &c. and ornaments of the church, the residue of the yearly rent of the land to be at the disposal of his wife Agnes, which land is vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 60l. 10s. N. B. The whole rent has been applied for time immemorial to the use of the poor of Eltham.
THOMASINE SAMPSON, widow, by will in 1624, established by a commission for charitable uses, in 1626, and enrolled in chancery, by which the application is directed, gave lands, out of which should be paid 4l. yearly among the most needy poor of this parish, and 4l. for putting out the children of poor persons of this parish apprentices, the land vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of 14l.
THOMAS ROPER, esq. and WILLIAM ROPER, his son and heir apparent, anno 25 Elizabeth, gave by indenture, in exchange for other lands, which belonged to the inhabitants of this parish, other lands therein mentioned, for the use of the same inhabitants, vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of 8l.
Dame SARAH PRITCHARD by will, in 1707, gave for ten such poor widows and maids equally, inhabitants of this parish, as the ministers and churchwardens should direct, in money, part of the interest of 800l. in the orphans fund in London, vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of 2l. 10s.
MARY CLAPHAM, widow, by will, in 1733, gave to be laid out in coals, and distributed yearly among twenty poor housekeepers of Eltham, 100l. in money, reduced Bank annuities, vested in trust, and of the annual produce of 3l.
WILLIAM SMITH, esq. by will, in 1731, gave to be laid out, in purchasing religious books yearly, for the parishioners of Eltham, and in purchasing coals to be distributed among the poor housekeepers of Eltham, in money 200l. reduced Bank annuities, vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 6l.
ABRAHAM COLFE, clerk, by will in 1756, gave two stout penny wheaten loaves of good bread, to be distributed every Sunday weekly in the year, to two of the godliest and poorest householders of this parish, at church after morning service, in money, among other charities, vested in the Leathersellers company, and of the annual produce of 8l. 8s.
RICHARD SLYNN by will, gave for bread, to be distributed to the poor inhabitants of this parish, on November 5th, yearly, an annuity, isluing out of certain houses and land, vested in trust, and of the annual produce of 12s.
WILLIAM HEWITT by will, in 1779, gave to the churchwardens of this parish, for keeping up the tombstone of his late grandfather, Robert Street, and the surplus to be laid out in bread among the poor inhabitants of this parish 50l. reduced Bank annuities, vested in trust, and of the annual produce of 1l. 10s.
There were TWO CHARITY SCHOOLS set up here more than seventy years ago, for twenty boys and ten girls, who are cloathed and taught in them, by the voluntary subscription of about 60l. per annum, and the gift at the beginning of them of 18l. per annum, as mentioned above.
William earl of Gloucester, on his founding the priory within his manor of Keinsham, in Somersetshire, about the year 1170, granted, as patron and lord of the soil, to the church of St. Mary and St. Peter of Canesham, and the canons regular there, in free and perpetual arms, the church of St. John of Haultham, with its appurtenances. His grandson, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, confirmed this gift, as did John, bishop of Bath and Wells, in 1314, (fn. 30) and king Edward II. in his 11th year, in his general confirmation of the possessions of the priory to them.
The church of Eltham was appropriated to the abbey of Keinsham by Richard de Wendover, bishop of Rochester, in the year 1242, so that the canons, during the life of Robert de Londone, then parson of it, should receive the sum of one hundred shillings, to be paid by him in the name of the parsonage, with licence for them, after his death or resignation, to enter into full possession of it, saving nevertheless to the bishop, in all things, his right of diocesan, and of instituting a perpetual vicar, to be taxed in it, with the assent of the above mentioned abbot.
The church was, anno 15 king Edward I. valued at twenty marcs, and the vicarage at one hundred shillings. King Edward III. in his 7th year, directed his writ to the bishop of Rochester, to return the names of all aliens beneficed within his diocese, and the names of the respective benefices, and who of them were resident on them. To which the bishop made return, that Sir Peter de Boileau, an alien, held the vicarage of the church of Eltham, and resided on it. A like writ was issued in the 20th year of the same reign, when the bishop made return, that Sir Peter de Boileau, an alien, held the vicarage of the church of Eltham, taxed at one hundred shillings, and that he resided on it.
An exchange was made, anno 43 Edward III. between the king and the prior and convent of Rochester, by which the latter granted to the king and his heirs for ever, among other premises, all the tithes of every kind, which they, in right of their church or otherwise, were entitled to, and had within the king's park of Eltham, for which the king gave them tenements and rents, in the parish of St. Bride, in Fleetstreet, late Hugh Stubby's, and certain shops, tenements, and rents, in the parish of St. John Zachery, London, late Walter de Hendon's, all which were worth twenty marcs and sixteen pence per annum, and became forfeited, and in the king's hands, by the devise of the said Hugh and Walter in mortmain, contrary to the statute, and without the king's licence. On the dissolution of the abbey of Keinsham, anno 30 Henry VIII. the church of Eltham, and advowson of the vicarage, came to the crown with the other possessions of that monastery. (fn. 31)
King Henry VIII. in the 36th year of his reign, granted the rectory of Eltham to Sir John Hendley, to hold by fealty only. He died without issue male, leaving three daughters and coheirs, one of whom, Helen, brought this rectory to her husband, Thomas Colepeper, esq. of Bedgbury, who sold it to William Roper, esq. of Wellhall, and he, in the reign of king Edward VI. reserving the advowson of the vicarage, conveyed the rectory of Eltham to Oriel college, in Oxford, with a stipulation that, on paying one hundred pounds as a fine, and a yearly rent of fourteen pounds, the college should grant a lease of it, either for three lives or thirty-one years, to him and his heirs of the family of Roper.
Anthony Roper was the last life in the lease, and his son Edward being left an infant, his trustees neglected to renew the term, on which the college granted the rectory in lease to Richard Comport, gent. of Eltham, who had a grant from Sir Edward Walker, garter, in 1663, of the following arms, viz. Argent, on a chevron gules three quarterfoils of the first between three torteauxes. (fn. 32) His only daughter and heir married Sir Thomas Fitch, and brought her husband this rectory; and on his death, in 1688, it descended to his son, Sir Comport Fitch, who died possessed of it in 1720; his daughter and heir, Alice, carried it in marriage to Sir John Barker, bart. of Suffolk, since which it has passed in the same manner as his estate at Southend, in this parish, by the devise of his son, Sir John Fitch Barker, bart. to Robert Nassau, esq. who is the present lessee of it.
The advowson of the vicarage still continued, as has been mentioned before, in the patronage of the Ropers, in which family it descended to Edward Roper, esq. of Wellhall, the last heir male of this branch, who died in 1722, since which it passed in like manner as Wellhall, and the rest of his estates in this parish, as has been more fully mentioned before, to Sir Gregory Page, bart. who at his death, without issue, in 1775, bequeathed it by his will to his greatnephew, Sir Gregory Turner Page, bart. of Oxfordshire, the present owner of it.
The vicarage is a discharged living, in the king's books, of the clear yearly certified value of 32l. 8s. the yearly tenths being 6s. 2d. (fn. 33)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, out of chancery, it was returned, that Eltham was a vicarage, worth 27l. 5s. per annum, one master Overton enjoying it, under the sequestrators, Mr. Chatterton and others. (fn. 34)
In the year 1767 this church was modernized and beautified, at no small expence, when being found too small to contain the parishioners, it was much enlarged, by which the antient chancel of the Tattersalls was destroyed.
In this church, among others, on the south side of the altar, is a monument for Richard Peter, clerk, vicar of this church, ob. Jan. 18, 1748, æt. 75. A monument for Anne, wife of Dr. Richard Owen, ob. 1652, and several of their children; Dr. Owen was driven hence by the rebels, but buried here. On a hatchment, anno 1664, Two shields lozengy, first, Philipott, quartered with seven other coats, impaling Glover, and three other coats; and an inscription, that near it lies buried Susan, late wife of John Philipott, esq. Somerset herald, designed Norroy, and daughter and sole heir of William Glover, esq. and Elizabeth his wife, daughter and coheir of Henry Harlackenden, esq. as likewise Susan, her eldest daughter. Monuments for several of the Cookes. In the chancel, a memorial for Margery, late wife of Ed. Isham, esq. of Walmer, daughter and coheir of John Fletcher, esq. of Sussex. A memorial round the verge of a flat stone for John, son of Edw. Colleton, gent. of Milverton, Somersetshire, ob. 1635, æt. 87. In the middle isle, a memorial for Clement Hobson, vicar of this church, ob. Oct. 31, 1725, æt. 91; also his mother, wife, and three children, and four grand children, by his daughter Jane, wife of Wm. Bosville, esq. of Bradbourn. Memorials for several of the Smiths and Bowles. The following inscriptions were on brass plates, on the pavement, now entirely lost—for dame Margerie, late wife of John Roper, esq. daughter and one of the heirs of John Tattersall, esq. ob. 1518—for John, son and heir of Margaret Morton, of Ashby de la Zouch, in Leicestershire, late wife of Tho. Squier, ob.—for Tho, Pierle, ob. 1369, and for John Pasley, yeoman, porter to king Henry VIII. and Agnes, his wife, ob. 1509. (fn. 35) In the family vault of the Burtons, in this church, are interred the remains of the worthy and excellent Dr. George Horne, late bishop of Norwich, who died much lamented and admired by all, Jan. 17, 1792, æt. 62, of whom more will be mentioned in the account of the deans of Canterbury, in the future course of this history. It may not be deemed improper to insert here, that the before mentioned John Philipott, esq. born at Folkestone, was a great loyalist, and followed the king to Oxford, but being seized by the rebels, was brought prisoner to London, where he was soon released, and lived afterwards in these parts, in much obscurity. He died, and was buried within the precincts of St. Paul's-wharf, in 1645, having written several books, and among others, Villare Cantianum, or Kent illustrated and surveyed; which his son, Thomas Philipott, had the honesty to rob his father of the merit of, publishing it under his own name, in folio, at London, 1659.
King Henry VIII. by his letters patent, in his 19th year, granted to Robert Burste, chaplain, the perpetual chantry within his manor of Eltham, and the mansion there, called the chantry priest's house, situated in the farther part of his manor, which chantry and mansion Richard Store, the last chaplain, possessed, and the king appointed him perpetual chaplain there for his life, to say mass, &c. daily for his own welfare, that of his consort, queen Catharine, and all other their progenitors, and to have the annual salary of ten marcs sterling.
An obit was founded in the church of Eltham, by the will of Elizabeth Hogeson, and another by the will of John Collin. The possessions were called Dennys-mead, Colly-acre, and Crowches-crost, and were of the clear yearly value of 16s. 8d. as appeared upon the survey, taken in consequence of the acts passed in the 1st year of king Edward VI. and in the 37th of king Henry VIII. for the surrendry of chantries, lights, obits, &c.
CHURCH OF ELTHAM.
|PATRONS, Or by whom presented.||RECTORS.|
|William Earl of Gloucester||Adam de Bromleigh. (fn. 36)|
|Picard, in the reign of Hen. II. (fn. 37)|
|Robert Londone, the last rector in 1242, when this church was appropriated to Keinshamabbey. (fn. 38)|
|Prior and Convent of Keinsham||Robert. (fn. 39)|
|Sir Peter de Boyleau, in 1342. (fn. 40)|
|Henry Underwood, 1549.|
|William Roper, esq. and his descendants||Thomas Thirwind, buried Jan. 26, 1584.|
|Richard Tyler, buried May 29, 1585.|
|James Twist, buried Feb. 18, 1597.|
|John Foord, A.M. induct. 1597, obt. Mar. 19, 1627.|
|The University of Oxford||Robert Forward, B. D. resigned Nov. 10, 1635. (fn. 41)|
|Edward Witherston A. M. 1635, resig. Feb. 16, 1636. (fn. 42)|
|Richard Owen, B. D. inducted February 2, 1636, resigned 1658. (fn. 43)|
|Edward Roper, esq||Clement Hobson, admitted November 13, 1658, obt. October 31, 1725. (fn. 44)|
|Charles Henshaw, esq||Richard Peter, A. M. instituted April 4, 1726, obt. Jan. 18, 1748. (fn. 45)|
|Sir Gregory Page, bart||Peter Pinnell, D. D. 1749, obt. Aug. 16, 1783. (fn. 46)|
|John Kenward Shaw, A.M. 1783. Present vicar.|